Vice President Kamala Harris will add voting rights to her portfolio of responsibilities. President Joe Biden made the announcement in Tulsa, Oklahoma during his recent visit to commemorate the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.
“This sacred right is under assault with an incredible intensity like I’ve never seen — even though I got started as a public defender and a civil rights lawyer — with an intensity and an aggressiveness that we have not seen in a long, long time,” said Biden in his remarks. “It’s simply un-American. It is not, however, sadly, unprecedented.”
The battle for voting rights is reaching a fever pitch. Since the November 2020 election, Republican lawmakers around the country have introduced nearly 400 voting bills in 49 states, per the Brennan Center.
Advocates say they restrict the options that make voting convenient and accessible, including early voting and voting by mail. So far, laws have already been enacted in at least 14 states. Congress is considering several measures. In March, the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act. The legislation would provide all Americans with fair and accessible voting options. The Senate is expected to take it up later this month (June). The House is also working on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a bill named for the late Georgia Congressman and Civil Rights Movement leader.
The measure would prevent discriminatory changes to voting laws and procedures. The president said the Biden-Harris Administration will work to protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans. “To signify the importance of our efforts…I’m asking Vice President Harris to help these efforts and lead them, among her many other responsibilities,” said Biden. “With her leadership and your support, we’re going to overcome again, I promise you. But it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work.
In a statement issued by the White House, VP Harris said in part: “In the days and weeks ahead, I will engage the American people, and I will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations, and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide.”
Harris noted the Administration will also work with members of Congress to help advance voting rights’ legislation. “Every American has a right to have their voice heard at the ballot box, and no American should be kept from voting early, voting by mail, or voting at all,” she said. “Our democracy is strongest when everyone participates, and it is weaker when people are left out.” She added: “Throughout the arc of our nation’s history, many have worked—and many have died—to ensure that all Americans can cast a ballot and have their vote counted.”
The Vice President noted, “Our Administration will not stand by when confronted with any effort that keeps Americans from voting. We must protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans regardless of where they live.” “The work ahead of us is to make voting accessible to all American voters, and to make sure every vote is counted through a free, fair, and transparent process. This is the work of democracy,” she said.